ROAM – Smile Wide

Buzzing with a 90s rock influence, ROAM’s third effort is a bid to push their brand of pop-punk further than ever before

Album Review by Dylan Tuck | 06 Sep 2019
  • ROAM – Smile Wide
Album title: Smile Wide
Artist: ROAM
Label: Hopeless Records
Release date: 6 Sep

Following two albums which cemented a knack for writing straight-up pop-punk without too much room for invention, something has to change for ROAM. Sure, good hooks will always get heads bopping, but for album number three, the anticipation rises for the Eastbourne lot to push themselves to do a little more than tick boxes.

Smile Wide is a genuine attempt at a wider (pun intended) sound, albeit not straying too far from the path. Better In Than Out lays down a marker: they’re going off centre, as unexpected chord progressions and a twisting melody replace the predictability you might expect from the quintet.

Inspiration from 90s grunge and punk acts is evident, while still not feeling completely alien to a more modern, polished sound. Alex Adam’s scorching lead guitar is spiked with woozy reverb throughout, while rhythms are beefed up to Royal Blood levels of fuzz, and the two Alex’s (Adam and Costello) retain their typical, unfiltered Southern English twang to offer a sense of familiarity.

Lead single I Don’t Think I Live There Anymore is where their search finds a solid conclusion. There are new, off-key tones to it, while still having the punchy chorus we associate with pop-punk music. That said, you won’t find too many chances at the really catchy choruses they’d usually form their tracks around, with focus placed on differentiation elsewhere in the songs, choruses almost feel put on the backburner – perhaps a further sign of ROAM pushing themselves in new areas.

While they hold binoculars to their eyes in search of that boundary-pushing sound, Smile Wide still has an undeniable ROAM and pop-punk feel to it. If this is a crossroads, ROAM have definitely followed the right path – but Smile Wide isn’t the end of this particular road.

Listen to: Red & Blue, I Don’t Think I Live There Anymore, Piranha